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We have a million problems. Sure...marriage will solve it.


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I have been with my girlfriend for 12 years. We have a 1 year old son together. He is the light of both of our lives.

Our relationship has been a crazy one. Lots of up and lots of downs. I have always had a fear of commitment. Obviously, 12 years and still not married. I know if I asked she would definitely say yes. Im always stalling, always making excuses. Its not the right moment, or I need to be making more money. The latest excuse is I need to fix my relationship first.

The pickle I find myself in is, we have all the problems of a 12 year marriage ( a 12 year marriage that is in trouble). We act more like brother and sister than partners. We have not had sex since the conception of our son. Almost 2 years without any meaningful physical contact. It breaks my heart and messes with my self confidence.

I am a child of divorce, I know the problems my son will be facing if we were to split up. I refuse to put my child through that if I can help it. Sometimes I ridiculously think that getting married might reignite the spark. I dont believe she is cheating. I think with the pregnancy and the baby, we have just lost our way. Maybe I should pop the question and really start to work on our relationship? Or, I should work on the relationship and cross the marrige bridge when we get to it? Anyway I look at it I know im in it for the long run.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated, thanks.

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I would not marry her nor would I stay in the relationship. You were not afraid to commit to having a child so my sense is you're probably not afraid of committing just afraid of committing to the wrong person. Get a good shared custody plan going because your son will face as many or more problems having you two as a role model for a stable romantic relationship.

You can also live separately, date and do couples therapy.

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Being with someone for 12 years and creating a family with them IS commitment. In fact, it's the definition of commitment.

 

That said, I'm picking up a lot of personal emotional issues and baggage that you seem to be carrying and wonder just how much that affects your relationship and causes strife. I also wonder how much the tensions between you is indeed due to her unhappiness with you not marrying her despite living as husband and wife. I think you need to actually seek some counseling for yourself to get over some of your issues and attitudes and emotional confusion.

 

The idea that first I need to do this then I need to do that is really just your own hangups. Life doesn't actually work like and things don't align like you think. There is some serious irony that you are stuck in that first this then that, but meanwhile.....you already have a wife a child just without the official marriage certificate. Get your head screwed on straight.

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I'm thinking the same thing as others. You don't really have commitment issues; you've just spent 12 years with someone you don't want to commit to. The irony, of course, is that you actually have committed. This has been 12 years of your life, with a child. That doesn't happen without committing, even if it doesn't "feel" the way you want commitment to feel.

 

Were I to play therapist, I'd say that part of the foundation of this relationship is your desire to "win" where your parents "lost," to be "right" where they were "wrong." Noble stuff, from one angle. But not so noble is you're trying to do all that with someone you're not totally keen on. That's turning a person (and your own personhood) into a psychological experiment and, in the process, missing out on their humanity and muting yours in the process.

 

The idea behind this post, for instance? It's just another if/then experiment to see if you can "solve" your commitment issues and get that "win." You're trying to figure out a way to feel the thing you want to feel, while also succeeding where your parents failed. But you're just a person, she's just a person, and it doesn't sound like she's a person you're jazzed about spending your life with. That is human. That is okay. That is not a verdict on you, or evidence of your failings as a man. It kind of just is, regardless of whether you own it or not.

 

I can't help but read this and think: you would both be happier, romantically, with someone else. Ergo, own that very hard fact, and take the steps needed to create an awesome co-parenting dynamic for your child. That, more than being officially married, might be the better, more honest way to step up where your parents couldn't and provide an awesome life for your young child while allowing both you and your partner to have awesome lives as humans. Kids, remember, don't have hard views about marriage, but they do have a fine radar for unhappy adults. They like being raised by the happy ones.

 

But you're in deep, and might not want to go down that road. So: therapy, fo you, to unpack your demons and hangups. So: therapy, for the two of you, to see if you can steer the battleship in the right direction. And then, if all that goes well, you get married—in order to celebrate and honor something that already is, rather than trying to push something that really isn't into reality.

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I have always had a fear of commitment. Obviously, 12 years and still not married. I know if I asked she would definitely say yes. Im always stalling, always making excuses. Its not the right moment, or I need to be making more money. The latest excuse is I need to fix my relationship first.

 

These are serious issues. I think you should work these out in counselling or therapy on your own as well as together. Both of you are doing a disservice to each other (lying to yourselves and each other) if you're not in love with each other. Allowing your fears to cripple you this severely is on you (no one else). You have to fix that or face that and repair trust and commitment issues that you have if you sincerely love this woman or want to be together. I think your ideas around marriage are a bit shifty and you should neutralize that. It's a lot of wasted energy.

 

You also think you know she'll say yes. At the way things are going right now, it may not be the 'yes' that you want to hear because it's insincere and the relationship looks and feels like a sham. It's that unhealthy already. Be realistic about your money together as a household and the relationship and be honest with each other.

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No point in getting married. It won't solve anything. What you need to do is resolve your relationship and personal baggage problems first. Once you've done that, then, based on the outcome, either break up or get married. Sounds though, like she might be feeling quite a lot of resentment if you have dangled marriage like a carrot for 12 years. You would definitely need couples therapy imo to resolve a 12 year relationship pattern gone wrong and the outcome doesn't sound promising. Given that there is a child involved though, imo, you have an obligation to try therapy.

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Before you jump the gun, talk it out with her first. lay all your cards on the table, be honest. Completely honest. If you cannot do this on your own then seek counselling and therapy if necessary. Marrying her just because might make both of you feel trapped. Sure, you both love your kid and you are doing the marraige thing for him, but remember that this is not just about your child's happiness. It is for both for you and your partner's happiness as well.

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A few questions as your answers might shed more light onto your situation: What qualities of her attracted you at the beginning? How was your dynamic before you had a child and how is it now?

 

12 years is a long time. Anyhow, since you do have a son together, I strongly agree that couples counselling would be best and then hopefully you can reignite that spark you once had / work this out.

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